In this episode of the Goss, I chat with my father Ian Smissen about the week’s news where we chat about baboons loose in Sydney, domestic violence in Australia, and Julian Assange.
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G'day you mob. Welcome to this episode of The Goss. This is the ninth instalment of the Goss and today is a ripper of an episode. Guys, we talk about Julian Assange. We talk about baboons on the loose in Sydney. Somehow they got out of their enclosures and were running through the streets. I shit you not. There's actually footage of that online. We talk about the train derailment from Sydney to Melbourne and we also chat about the only ever colour footage found of Don Bradman. I wonder if you know who that sporting legend is in Australia. And lastly, we talk about the tragic murder of Hannah Baxter and her children in Queensland by her ex-husband. So there was a tragic domestic violence case that occurred in the last week.
We chat about that and give our two cents on domestic violence in Australia. Anyway, this episode is jam packed full of different stories. The whole point is for us to talk about as many different topics as possible that have come up in the news that are interesting to help you guys develop your opinions and learn about what's going on down under. Don't forget, guys, if you want the full episode for this episode of The Goss, sign up to the Premium podcast membership or the Academy membership at Aussieenglish.com.au And I'll see you there. Anyway, smack the kookaburra and let's get into it.
Let's get started. Dad. Goss. The Goss. Goss episode number nine.
Number nine. I thought we got to three were impressive.
I know, we've been smashing through. Do we start with sad or do we start with upbeat?
Let's go upbeat. Might never get to the sad.
So we've got baboon's running through the streets of Sydney.
Yeah, we did well through the carpark at the hospital. Reminds me of my days at the zoo and I'm sure we'll get onto some stories about that.
I'll get into that. So yeah, they had one male and two female baboons that escaped from Sydney's Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. Apparently they were taken there on a, or in a truck for a vasectomy operation or something.
Yeah. Females were only there to keep the male company.
Yeah. I assume the male wasn't carrying out the operation on someone else.
Yeah. You think that he would be the recipient.
So the females were there literally to keep him company? To calm him down?
No, no. They actually brought them just to calm him down.
Sad that doesn't happen for humans, I imagine.
No apparently they... Well according to what I read this morning, they think the lock was dodgy. And so they picked the lock and got out.
Yeah. I reckon that was probably broken and they just pulled that off.
Oh, maybe. Who knows? But they are seriously smart. And yeah, I said I used to work at the zoo in the education service a long time ago and the stories of primates escaping from enclosures were sort of legendary at the zoo.
Oh, that's why I thought we should bring it up because I remember hearing those stories when I was probably, what, nine years or younger, maybe around that age...
Well I was working there when you were about three or four.
Yeah. So tell us what happened. What exactly?
Oh, look, there's lots of stories, but my favourite one is I was in one of the curator's offices one day just having a chat. And somebody said, one of the junior keepers came rushing up and banging on the door and interrupted us. And he's very apologetic, but just said that there's a monkey escaped. And the curator said, "What?" "There's a monkey escaped? Quick. What are we going to do? What are we going to do?" And he says, "Just sit down and have a cup of coffee. Calm down." And I thought, "Oh, this is yeah, it's good human resource management. He's dealing with this person really well. But what are we going to do about the monkey?"
What kind of monkey was it?
I can't remember. It was one of the small ones. It wasn't a baboon.
But those ones I'd be more worried about. Baboons or worse, apes, because they do physical damage. Especially baboons will probably kill you. Especially the males with these huge cane canines. Yeah, capuchin monkeys...
It was a capuchin or something like that. I can't remember the details now, but... And I thought "Oh yeah he's dealing with this quite well. Yeah. He's settled this guy down," the guys disappears, but he just said, "What are you going to do? What are you doing to do?" He says we're just going to sit and wait. "What are you to talk about?" And within two minutes the phone rang in his office and he picked up the phone and said, "Yep, it's in North Melbourne. Here's the address. Go and get it." Somebody had rung because they find a monkey, where are they going to right? They're going to ring the zoo. And it had gone all the way across Royal Park into North Melbourne within 15 minutes. So obviously it's escaped, jumped the fence and gone.
It was up a tree in somebody's backyard.
Well, that's it, you'd imagine, too, at least with things like monkeys and apes, they going to climb a tree, they're not just going to really hang around on the ground. You would imagine they're going to go to safety. And so they're going to get up the tree, feel safe, probably find something to eat and chill out.
Across Flemington Road, which is what's eight-lanes, seven lanes or something, including trams and yeah, yeah, crazy.
I always imagine what it must be like when you have those situations arise with animals that are clearly not native to the area, let alone you know, they... Even seeing a kangaroo in the city in Melbourne would be a weird sight, it would probably get on the news, but especially with things like big cats that escape, especially in America where there are thousands of, you know, tigers and lions in people's back yards as pets.
Well, there was a tragic story, wasn't there, in the US of a man who committed suicide and decided to let out 60 of his pet big cats into the... I can't remember which state it was, but he let them out into the town. It was there...
Wandering the streets.
And had to kill them all because they didn't have time to tranquillise 60 of them. So then at the end, you see this picture of all of these animals. It looked like someone had gone on a hunting frenzy with tigers, Bengal tigers, all these endangered animals. And you're just like, "Tragic." But yeah, imagine driving around at night and just seeing that.
Tigers wandering around the street.
You'd crap yourself! You'd be like, "Am I on drugs?" You had a few good stories didn't you? About the otters at the zoo as well.
Yeah, yeah. The otters when they were in... They're not in the same enclosure now, but they were in an enclosure next to the seal pond and, or the seal enclosure, and the same keepers that used to look after them. And every morning before the zoo would open, the keepers would go and do their rounds and there'd be these little muddy footprints, otter footprints outside the enclosure.
And these were small. These are small little river otters from Asia.
These are small otters. Yeah. Yes. They're Orientals; Small-clawed otters. They're very small.
In a group, and they do all the like...
chirping to each other and standing up on their back legs and carry on. Yeah. So every morning they'd see these muddy footprints on the outside and they could not work out where these animals were getting out. But clearly they get out, they have a romp around the zoo and then get back in again before the morning because they get fed in the morning. So they knew that they were going to be fed, so they'll be back in there. And there was never the wrong number there. They're always there, but they were clearly getting out and nobody could work at why, so they moved them to another enclosure.
And what... Where were they going? Did they trace the footprints or did they disappear?
The muddy stuff just wore off after a while.
But you wonder if they're going to go, you know, give the bird to the lions or something. Yeah, give the finger to the lions. You know, "Look, hey, look who got out!"
Yeah. Sort of weird animals.
Yeah. What was it like working at the zoo?
It was great fun. It was really good. I mean, I was a teacher there. So we were taking classes every day with school groups coming in, which is good fun because teaching a class on ecology or animal biology or something in a normal school classroom is all very well. But it makes a big difference when you can bring out a possum and have the kids handling the possum or a snake or a lizard or a wombat or whatever. So that sort of made it real for kids. The looks on their faces when they get to pet a wombat or to and see a snake right close up, those sort of things, Or handle a snake.
I don't remember ever going to the zoo and being in a class where any of the children were disappointed with going to the zoo as an excursion.
Yeah. And that was the approach that we took as teachers there is that this is the once in a lifetime experience that these kids may be only going to come there once in their life.
But it's that moment, too, that matters, right, when they're young.
They get that moment for them.
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Far out. What else was I going to say? What do you think of the ethics of it? So I guess coming back to the baboons running through the streets, but also zoos. What do you think of the ethics of first, I guess, having animals in zoos, especially, well, there are most of them are going to be sentient animals, but incredibly intelligent animals like baboons, monkeys, even gorillas, because that's the one thing that gets me whenever I go to the zoos, I kind of don't want to go and see the big apes because it just makes me depressed to see quite often a large silverback gorilla sitting there looking like he wants to hang himself.
You know, the orangutans with all the kids bashing on the glass and they just like, "Yep. Another day of this shit."
Yeah, look, there are some elements of that. And certainly, you know, when I was a child growing up, zoos were there for human entertainment. Yeah. And so there were... It was really, "How many different species of animals could you put into the into the zoo?" So they were in, animals were in small enclosures. They weren't environmentally enhanced. They weren't particularly enhanced for the animals to entertain themselves. It was really just a few concrete cages with bars to show off as many animals as you could.
That's changed. Modern zoos these days are much more about representing the animals in as close to their natural habitat as you can. And so we can be anthropomorphic about, saying watching gorillas and things, but gorillas in the wild are going to spend 90 per cent of their time sitting around doing nothing, sleeping or sitting around. The other 10 per cent, they'll be out foraging. But they're rainforest animals and they're vegetarian.
They don't have to travel far to find food. Yeah, it's not like they're out hunting to get things. So I think we're now seeing animals in zoos in... It's never going to be exactly the same. They are still in captivity. The really intelligent ones like apes and monkeys and so on, they know they're in captivity, but they're also in an environment now that is as close to natural as possible. The next question comes as to what's the purpose of zoos. And zoos now are much more around conservation than they are around public entertainment.
When did that change come through?
Look, I think it's always sort of been there because zoos were always about breeding animals,
but they were originally private enterprises, right?
originally private enterprises for commercial purposes, for entertainment. You know, you people pay money to come in and see them. There used to be things like elephant rides and those sort of things in zoos. And they've fortunately disappeared. And you can argue that animals like particularly Asian elephants, which are almost all of the world's zoos populations, are Asian elephants.
There are few African elephants in zoos, but not many. And most of those Asian elephants have come from and been bred by elephants who are working animals. And so yeah, taking people on walks around the zoo on an elephant is probably actually okay for the elephant most of the time because that's what they expect to do. It's entertaining. It gives them something to do.
I'd be shitting myself if they put me on an elephant that wasn't used to that.
But the message behind that is that the animals are there for human entertainment. And so I think that's why those sort of things have stopped.
You don't need that to be entertained, I think. I think most people, too, are like you don't have to sit on the elephant to be able to appreciate the elephant.
You don't have to be able to touch it to really appreciate it.
And you look at the elephant enclosure at Melbourne Zoo now. It's huge. Yeah. And there are places in that enclosure that can't be seen from any of the viewing areas. So the elephants decide they don't want to be interacting with humans, it's their choice now. They can get out of the way. They're not sort of stuck in this small concrete block that says you're going to be there and have people throwing peanuts at them. And of course, now you can't feed animals in zoos. That used to be a thing, even when I was a child, that they would sell, you know, food for you to throw at the animals.
Unless you go to the edge of the tiger lions cage and jump in.
Right, yeah. That's a different version of feeding them.
Sorry to interrupt, I just remembered your story about... I think it was the duckling or the cygnet, the baby duckling. You got to tell that one. That story about the zoo.
And apologies to the zookeepers if you're still around. And I won't name the person.
They're not learning English.
He's actually quite famous now. I won't name the person that's involved with this.
I'm laughing because I know the end.
Yeah, exactly. So there's... One of the things we used to do as the, in the education service at the zoo was every morning or at least two or three times in the week, we would get there early before the zoo would opened and we would go around and walk around to one or two of the areas and talk to the keepers because it was always good to have stories about, you know, what was coming up, you know, with the new babies born or was a particular animal undergoing some form of treatment.
And so you'd have stories to tell the kids when they came into the classes. And we are in the... We went in the bears. We went to the back of the bear enclosures to talk to the keepers there. And we then went round the front to watch the bears come out. And one of the education staff who was with me noticed there was a duckling swimming around in the bear's pond.
So she ran back and said, look, don't let the bears out, because as a duckling there and we're frightened the bear will get the duckling and the keepers indulged us and spent ten minutes with a net chasing this duckling around in a pond. And if you ever tried to catch a duckling, they can swim really quickly.
And probably duck-dive. Manoeuvre really well.
Exactly. But eventually they got it and they took it out of the enclosure and walked over. And there was a big pond in the zoo, then, it's still there. But it was just directly opposite the bear enclosure, which it had ducks and swans and so on.
Free-living ones, yeah. And so he released the duckling into the lake. And within 20 seconds, a mute swan, the big white ones from Europe, just swam over and pecked the thing and drowned it. So we've spent 15 or 20 minutes trying to rescue at the bear enclosure and this bloody swan came and killed it. So, you know, what can you do? Because obviously we couldn't find its parents. And normally the parents would be protecting it from other birds. Best of intentions. The duckling's probably going, "But I spent all night trying to get into the bear enclosure to get away from that bloodly swan!"
Exactly. I was about to say.
Sometimes just leave them alone.
So what do you think, though, about doing animal experiments?
Yeah. Look, animal experimentation in... Look, there's that animal rights thing about, as humans, we shouldn't be experimenting on animals. We shouldn't eat animals and so on. Am I going to get into the vegetarianism veganism versus eating meat. But there's a choice for us. Would you rather be undertaking medical treatment or drug treatment that has never been tested on an animal before it got to humans? Yeah. And I think most people would say no. And then there is the choice. If you choose to say we'd want to ban all medical experimentation on animals, then we're going to put drug treatments and different medical treatments back decades in terms of releasing new treatments for disease.
So it's... We don't want to treat animals badly. And there are always the horror stories of animals trapped in tiny cages and got all sorts of horrible things attached them and so on. And some of those are true. But I think they are the extremes and they're also the minority. The... I'm led to believe that the baboons in this case are there for medical research. And there, the research that is going on is things like diabetes and so on, which is a significant disease affecting millions of people around the world.
And but they're kept in a colony. And so they're not sitting in isolated cages and so on. There's a colony that's kept. So the animals can live, they're very social animals, they can live like that inside. Yes, they are going to undergo medical treatments. But those treatments, that's the point where by the time we get to be doing it on monkeys like baboons, that's the last step before human testing. And realistically, I would rather they were testing those things on baboons. They're not killing them. They're testing these drugs after they have been tested and tested in test as the next step before human trials.
People don't realise the lengths to which scientists have to go in order to justify being able to do those tests.
The ethics committees are incredibly tight.
It's a nightmare. I remember talking about, like because I did a class of animal ethics at university and then obviously going for grants and doing experiments and all sorts of other stuff, not necessarily like that on animals medically, but there are a lot of people who were having to do them on rats and mice and cane toads and other animals there that had to go through the ethics thing.
And it's a pain in the arse at times because I think on the board usually you have the people who are experts, but you also have laymen. Lawyers...
Yeah, They deliberately have lay people in there. You're not just trying to convince your colleagues who are working the same area to do it.
And some of the things, though, like... I remember, trying to think of how much I can talk about, but I remember doing stuff with catching species in the wild, especially of rats. And they would make you jump through hoops like having to take a drug all the way to Indonesia to be able to inject into the animals to kill them within 10 seconds or something. And it's like when you could just break its neck and it's dead instantly.
And, you know, it would be one of those things where we're stabbing it with a needle into the heart, injecting a drug, and that's killing it. And that's the ethical thing that a vet would do in Australia under good conditions. But we're in the jungle, we're smuggling this drug, well we're not smuggling, but taking this drug from Australia into Indonesia, which may not be allowed. So they might ban it. And then when you get there, you have to do something else or you can't. And so there are all these things that you had to go through and do and you forget that...
I remember my supervisor saying, if these rats survive long enough to die of natural causes in the wild, they're getting eaten by a snake or ripped to pieces by a bird of prey or something. It's not a nice way to go, being eaten from the inside out by parasites, like having its neck broken, or even being injected with a drug to die, is a pretty, pretty good way to die. You know, maybe in a few months.
And it is going to happen.
So it's always a touchy subject. But, you know, I sit on the side of let's do this as humanely as we possibly can.
And we have intelligent non-experts making decisions about whether scientists can do these things or not. We don't just have scientists allowing other scientists to do what they like. And that's the situation that we have in all medical practices, in hospitals, in research institutions, in universities. There are always these committees that are made up of experts in ethics, in law and there are lay people because you don't want to just be convincing a lawyer that it's legal.
Yeah, yeah. I guess switching gears and moving on to something sadder, we had an incredibly sad event in the Australian news probably a week and a half ago of Hannah Baxter and her three kids being burned to death in a car by her husband or estranged husband. What would you call it? I guess they were on the path of separation and divorce. I think she had a restraining order against him and somehow he's ended up in the car with her with petrol, poured it on everyone, stabbed himself, and then lit everyone on fire. I think the kids died straight away effectively. He jumped out of the car and died on the footpath and she survived and died a day later or so. What do you think it is? Because in the wake of this, I mean, every time these events happen, they are atrocious.
But if you were to look at it objectively, four people have died and we probably lose hundreds of people a day to disease or something in the hospital. Why do we have this sort of a reaction to something like domestic violence where we don't have the same reaction to, say, heart disease or lung cancer from smoking or something?
I think we have a general reaction to death, that death by what we could call natural causes, as in disease, whether you die of cancer or heart disease or some other old age sort of thing... Nobody likes the idea of death, but we sort of accept that that's part of living, is that, you know, we're not immortal. We are going to die. But when we have human intervention in it, which is so horrific, people killing their wife and their children and in a horrific way as well, it's not just, you know, it's not just killing them.
It is killing them in a way that you ca... And we were talking about this when it happened, that it's impossible to fathom how somebody can do that. So we cannot have a normal reaction to it. We can't try and analyse it logically and intellectually because we have this such an emotional reaction to the actual event. And so, you know, the domestic violence of any sort is horrific...
To pause there, is it a scourge in Australia? Because that I mean, every time these events happen, which, you know, it's once or twice a year, you hear about these horrific stories, the media goes into its cycle again of talking about how horrible domestic violence is in Australia. And obviously it's a bad thing anywhere you are.
Yes. But I don't know that it's any worse in Australia than many other places. But any person getting abused, whether it be physical, sexual, emotional, neglect in a domestic situation is horrible. But when you have, you know, thousands of people that that's happening to, and particularly women and children, and because... And that's not to say that men are not being abused domestically, but when it's a physical interaction, most men are bigger and stronger than most women, and most men are also more aggressive, testosterone being what it is.
And so most of those interactions that are happening, the negative ones and particularly the ones that are people being physically damaged, are going to be a man damaging a woman. And so we're rightly concerned about that. And there's a lot of publicity in all sorts of organisations about how do we prevent this, how do we stop it happening. And it's far more complex than we can talk about here.
The hardest part, I think, excuse me, about dealing with domestic violence from my sort of limited understanding is that it isn't ideologically based. It's not, you know, a group of guys getting together or, you know, a religious organisation where you can say this is the problem. They get together, spread these ideas like, you know, Islamic terrorism or like Naziism or whatever it is. The real thing we have to fight is this ideology because you can't... It's happening on a lone wolf, you know, sort of situation every single time, right. It's not these guys bashing their wives and then getting together and high fiving each other on the weekend.
And so how do you ever fight that? Right. And the problem I have with this sort of rhetoric that comes out in the news quite often from people like Lisa Wilkinson, whenever you know, these atrocious things happen, she gets on the news saying that it's men's responsibility, it's men's fault, it's men who need to go out there and change this. And I feel like they're kind of throwing the baby out with the bathwater in terms of making allies with the majority of men who would never, ever do this, because I feel like it treats us almost like we're potential murderers waiting to happen. As if I were, you know, potential... I have the ability to burn Noah and kill to death at the drop of a hat suddenly, because I'm male.
That's the idea that I really hate about it.
I think. And unfortunately, that message tends to be oversimplified. In that it's that, you know, men need to change.
Well, I think we want someone to blame.
We do. And exactly. And that's my point. I think we want to lay blame somewhere because then that in some way absolves us of responsibility of doing something about it. If you can identify that another group of people are responsible, then it's their responsibility to fix it.
And you want to know the enemy, right? There's the enemy over there. We know what shape it takes. We know where it is. It's that thing there. Okay, I feel safe knowing that that's it. I'm here.
I think, though, that if we take the message at face value, then you can react positively or negatively to it. I think the negative reaction is the one that we've just been talking about. I think the positive reaction to that message is that ultimately, men talking to other men about it I think is going to be more effective than women talking about it or it being spoken about in public... Awareness is one thing, but a man talking to another man saying, "Hey, that's not on." Is more likely to be effective.
I think if you're talking situations where they see someone do it, 100%. But I guess the the main thing that the message seems to be is, "Hey, guys, make sure that you tell your mates when you hang out with them next time, 'don't go out there and, you know, burn your family to death.'" So it's kind of like that's a bit of a condescending message.
And that's a bit of a problem because there's the this trigger, the, you know, the murder of this woman and her two children.
Three children. Sorry. It's obviously horrific. And it to put it into the framework of domestic violence is obvious because that's exactly what it is. Yeah, but it's so far out there that it just becomes a... Well, most people are going to look at that and go, "Well, I'd never do that. Yeah, I might slap my wife around or belt the kids if they're misbehaving, but I'd never burn them to death.," and that's actually true. Most people, almost everyone would say, "I would never do that," and they wouldn't. But what that then does is go, "Well, I'm not going to kill them, then it's okay for me to slap them around." And that's, I think, the message that we've got to do... Yeah, we take this extreme one as another one of, you know, let's talk about domestic violence on this basis.
But I think it's more the point that we've got to be saying to people that it's not about not hitting women and children, it's about let's just reduce violence, let's remove violence as a solution to things, because there are plenty of people who will think it is okay to go home, have a couple of beers... Go home and smack your wife because she hasn't got the dinner on the table now. That's a cliche, but it happens. And there's plenty of people who think that is actually okay. This is not something that is an illness or is a psychotic event where clearly the particular case that we've had recently with the murder and, you know, with burning the kids and things, that's a psychotic event.
And that's in no way excusing it. But it's different from, you know, it's an extreme thing. So if we're talking about more general domestic violence, I think we have to get to the point where it's a re-education process. It's saying to people that hitting people is not the answer.
Hitting your wife or your children or a woman hitting her husband with a frying pan... Any of that stuff is not the answer, unless it's self-defence to the point where you think you're in danger of physical harm, then... You getting your own way by hitting somebody is never a good thing.
I think that's the broader message, right? It's violence, is it shouldn't be used, and coercion shouldn't be used to get what you want.
And that's what I think the general problem is that the majority of domestic violence of men against women appears that it is coercion. It's men trying to get women to do what they want. And, you know, you can say, "Oh, I'm only doing it because I love her,", and, you know, there's all those cliches around them and so on. But... And that's I think the bigger problem. We can't assume that murdering your wife and your children is the big problem in Australia. Obviously, in this particular case, it's a huge issue and it's horrific. But the broader issue is just family violence in general is there's a solution to family issues, just has to stop.
And I'm not a psychologist. I'm not a sociologist. I'm not a criminologist. But there are lots of people who are working in this area, and yet it's still happening. So I think it is... There's going to be multiple facets of ways that we can try and reduce this. But I think one of them is that men talking to other men is going to be something that happens.
Now, how that works, I don't know...
But I guess we're doing it now.
We are. Yeah, exactly. And so, yeah, "Think before you hit," is a pretty good thing to do. Whether... We all get angry and we all have this tension in us, but don't just lash out. Think before you do something and just stop it.
Yeah. Well it is one of those things where most people, and I get this from Jordan Peterson, watching his lectures on the Second World War, talking about how, you know, you would watch his lectures when he was actually at university filming these with an audience that were his students. And he would say, "Who here thinks that they would have been in a guard at Auschwitz?" You know, raise your hand and a minority or a very small portion put their hand up.
And he's like, "All of you would have. Every single one of you would have," you know, if you were given those choices, the chances of you being someone who would hide Anne Frank in your attic or who would have stood up and said to the SS guard, "No, I'm not going to be a, you know, an SS member or whatever," is close to zero, effectively.
But we all like to think that we're, though, that that small minority. And so Kel and I were talking about that, and I was saying to her like, "I know that inside of me, I have violence there that I could use, like I can imagine it but the... The reason for which it would come out would have to be so extreme,"
Where... Yeah, like this this guy burning his kids in his family. I can't imagine ever separating with someone or her taking the kids and that being my solution. But I could imagine burning someone to death if they burn my kids to death, you know, like I could imagine still manifesting that violence on someone if driven to it. So it is one of those things where I think people need to be able to realise that everyone has the capacity for great evil and great, great horror. But at the same time, you know, a lot of good at the same time. I think he was saying that the line between good and evil goes down the middle of everyone's heart.
It does. But if we think about it as a spectrum between, you know, murdering people and hiding Anne Frank in your attic, there's a lot of grey in the middle of that.
One hundred percent.
And where you sit on that is going to determine, you know, your behaviour and so on. But I think... Most of our behaviour is conscious. We might react, but we can teach ourselves to not react unconsciously or subconsciously. And I think that's the important part, is to raise awareness of these issues, raise awareness that people... You don't have to do these things and if you think you're going to, ask for help
And I think that's something, too, that we tend to, in our society, look at people who are behaving in ways that we think are inappropriate and think if we just tell them to stop, that's enough. That we've got to be able to provide ways of helping people, because we could look at this also as some form of mental illness that, you know, if you're unable to control your emotions and your temper, then that's a form of mental illness. And we should be able to treat that rather than just having people just say, "Just control your temper." That's not terribly helpful in most cases.
Moving on. Man, we got that one out of the way.
The only ever colour footage of Don Bradman was found this week.
Who's Don Bradman? Why does he matter?
Why does it matter? This is Ian sporting rant number Who-knows-how-many-that-we've-had...
So Don Bradman was?
Don Bradman was a cricketer in the 1920s through to the 1940s. Yeah. Played for Australia for 20 plus years.
To put it into the context of other sports, He is the greatest sportsperson who has ever lived, statistically, in any sport because he is 50% better than anybody else who has ever played the game of cricket of cricket for 100 years.
Now, no other sport has one person who is that much better.
Why do you think that is? I keep trying to like... Was it that he was that good or..?
It's unfathomable. Allegedly. And clearly he stopped playing before I was born but my parents saw him play. My grandfather saw him play and they said he was that good.
But I wonder...
He was just much better than anybody else.
...was it that everyone else at the time was just horrible and he was an amazing cricketer?
No, because there were... Like if we were to look at it... In the 20s, 30s, 40s, when he was playing, there were people who were playing, and he was a batsman, so his batting average .04 short of 100.
So every single time he batted, he almost got a hundred runs.
Every time he runs, he's average just short of 100 runs. The next best player in the history of the game is the current Australian player, Stephen Smith, whose average is about 62.
Yeah, and anybody who averages over 50 is elite in the sport. So he's effectively twice as good as elite in that sense, and he's more than 50% better than the second best player who has ever played. But there were players playing around him who were averaging 50. So it's not like everybody else was terrible and he was just, you know, looked okay.
Well relatively they were
Well... But relatively they are the same standard as the good players today.
And the exceptional players today. So yeah it's... And so he's treated as the sort of God of Australian sport, that it's a name that if you're in Australia you know him, even if you don't know anything about cricket, you know the name Don Bradman, to the point where his name is so famous that his son changed his surname.
Because he didn't want to be known as the son of Don Bradman.
Really? I did not know that.
Not He was ashamed of his father...
Just didn't want to be in his shadow.
Just, you know, his life was, "Oh, you're Don Bradman's son."
Yeah, no kidding. What did he change it to?
I don't know. I don't know. And I think that was the point.
He went into witness protection, did he?
I think, yeah, name protection. So obviously from the 1920s, 30s and 40s, there was no television. So there wasn't just recorded television footage of him all the time, which... Modern day players, there's, you know, hundreds of hours of footage of every player of almost every sport at that international level. So it was all film.
People taking film cameras and doing it. And most film in those days was black and white because it was often going to be shown in movie cinemas and things and they wanted to get it out quickly and so on. And so it was easier to produce black and white film. There was colour film around, but it was easier to produce black and white. And so yeah, a piece of colour footage of Don Bradman, not that being in colour is any significantly better in terms of a record, but it's just so unusual.
He seemed like a really good guy, because I think if you see every single time he is walking onto the field, off the field after being bowled out, he's smiling and just seems cheerful and happy. You always see him with a bat under the arm putting his gloves on or whatever.
Well, the legend when he... The last innings, the last time he ever played...
You should tell that story of how he just missed on 100. An average of 100.
He would of... If he had made four runs in his last innings, the last time he played, he would have averaged 100. Yeah. And this is a man who was averaging 99.96. So if he'd made four runs then he would have averaged 100.
So he could've done that off a single ball, right?
One ball. Hit it to the boundary, four runs and it's over. Yeah. Or just hit for singles and you're in.
And he was... He went out for none. For no score.
Golden Duck, right.
No, it wasn't first ball but it was, yeah, he went out for no score and so... And I can't even remember the name of the bowler, but that bowler was a... It's not like he was a famous name and that one of the great bowlers got him out. It was just some ordinary guy who was at...
The Black Swan event, right?
And so, yes. So that was the end. He didn't make a hundred. Didn't average one hundred for his entire career. But...
You wonder what he thought at that point, he's just like, "Eh, whatever."
If he'd pulled a hamstring and not gone in... As he's walking out, if he tripped over and said, "No, I'm not going to bat," he would've averaged 100.
Yeah. Jesus. All right. Julian Assange.
Have you been following that..?
I've been following that, well, the story for the last 10 years...
More than that, right? Since like 2008 or something. So he's been... What happened? He released all the stuff on WikiLeaks. He's the sort of guy who, I guess the face of WikiLeaks, released all that information online. I think he ended up in the Ecuadorian embassy in Britain...
Well, he was in the embassy in Russia for a while. And he ended up... Ecuador said that they would take him.
And they put him into the embassy in London.
They gave him citizenship in 2018 and then revoked it in 2019.
And so he was there for eight years. Since 2012, he was in the Ecuadorian embassy hiding out in a room. And then he got evicted 10 months ago. And the US want to extradite him.
For espionage charges that could have him in jail for 175 years. 18 counts of endangering national security. I think originally they wanted to try him for... What's it called? Treason or something, right. And you're just like, "But he's not even a citizen of your country. How does that work?" You betrayed someone else's country!
You can't be tried for treason if you're not a citizen.
Apparently, Trump offered him a pardon if he denied Russia hacking involvement in the run up to the 2016 election. That was what came out recently.
Yeah, I guess. And how he was supposed to have known about that is interesting, given that he's been sitting in... Effectively imprisoned in an embassy in London.
Well, he apparently had also been... Had all of his rooms where he was having meetings bugged, recorded, videoed by the British.
You know, so there's all this... It seems ironic to me that, you know, whatever you think of Julian Assange and WikiLeaks, he's a guy that Britain wants to potentially extradite to the U.S. because of espionage charges. And then they're spying on him illegally when he's meeting his lawyers.
It becomes legit.
And you're like, "What?" It's the pot calling the kettle black, right.
So there is three or four aspects to this. There's... And I've got opinions, but none of them is legal on them. Firstly, there is the legitimacy of something like WikiLeaks, where this is an organisation who are deliberately getting hold of documents that have been effectively marked as secret yet and releasing them. Now, we can argue either way as to whether that is legitimate or not.
And so they're getting documents from people illegally.
They're not going in and grabbing them.
They're not hacking.
No. People are giving them or exposing these things, and WikiLeaks are actually then releasing them to the public.
And this was Chelsea Manning, right? I think he or, I think, originally a he who may have transitioned into a woman now, but he's in jail in the US, was an Army cadet or something that released drone footage to WikiLeaks maybe, or... And went through this process, and I think because Julian Assange sees what happened to him, or her, sorry, he's like, "Yeah, I'm not in a rush to go to the US."
Exactly. So there's that component to it. The next thing is that you've got to look at it and say, "Why are governments reacting badly to this?" You know, the cynic in me says they are reacting badly to this because they are being exposed of things that are dodgy. There's a word for you, a bit of Australian slang. They're being exposed of things for which most people would look at it and, you know, the common expression in Australia is the "pub test." You know, people sitting around in the pub having a chat. Would they think this is fair or not? Yep.
Does it pass the pub test?
And then governments react and say this is now about national security, for which those things are not about national security. The thing that is about national security is whether people get access to those things or not. Yeah, I don't know how much of the material that was released by Julian Assange under WikiLeaks was ever going to be a threat to national security of the United States, to Australia, to Britain or to anybody else.
We don't know because that's all been locked away again. And so that's now... And that's 12 or 13 years ago that all of this happened. Then there's the case of, "Is it legitimate for two or three other countries to effectively conspire to have him extradited to the United States, who are claiming that he is committed national security breaches in the United States," and as you say, that was originally treason and that's farcical.
which goes to show that...
He's not an American and he wasn't in America at the time.
They tried to throw whatever they can to get him. They're trying to like just get him on something.
And the most heinous thing you can ever accuse somebody of is treason, that is actually...
Betraying your own people, right.
Betraying your own country. Yeah. And then we also have the next layer of that is to say that he has effectively been imprisoned without charge for 12 years or more. Yes, he has been, you know, not in jail, but he has been sitting in an embassy and he can't leave.
Well he did that because he would go to jail.
And as soon as he went to jail, he would be extradited to the United States. And then on top of that, we then have, You know, what's coming out is that he is... The rooms that he's meeting in and living in and so on are being bugged and filmed and, you know, how legitimate is that? So the whole thing has got completely out of hand. And it's one of these ones where everybody blinked.
And so there were nobody sat back and just said, "What's the sensible approach to dealing with this?" Everybody blinked.
I think that was the issue with the Australian government, right. We didn't defend him enough or try and get him back here. We were kind of very lukewarm with our reaction. And the government was like, "Well, we're friends with America and Britain, so we better do what they want." So what do you think their role should be, though? Should the Australian government be...
He's an Australian citizen.
They have to treat him like an Australian citizen. If an Australian citizen is accused of drug trafficking in Southeast Asia, they go to jail. They are invariably sentenced to death. And the Australian government tries to defend them and get them out.
Sometimes failing. But we do. Yeah. And not on the basis that we are saying they are not guilty, but on the basis that we don't have the death penalty. We disagree with what they're doing and so on. But we will try and defend those people.
Well, that was the weird thing, I guess, they didn't bring him to Australia and then deal with the extradition stuff, because I'm sure the US have an extradition treaty with Australia.
Of course they do.
So we could deal with it, not just stand on the boundary and just watch Britain...
Sit on the fence and wait for something else to happen.
Yeah. Look, it's one of those ones where, and there will be people who just say, "He's a criminal. He should never have done it." And they're correct. There are other people who would say all he is doing is exposing what governments are doing that should be exposed to the public. And they are correct. The only reason he's a criminal is because governments can mark anything they want secret if they don't want information to come out.
And what WikiLeaks was originally doing was saying, "There's stuff that the public has a right to know." I don't necessarily agree with the way that was done because I think they were calling a bluff, as in WikiLeaks and Julian Assange was calling a bluff, saying, if I expose all of this, then everybody will be running around trying to cover their backside. And they just went straight for him.
The problem that I had with him, at least... It's one of those things that I'm not really sure where I stand either. I don't know about it deeply enough to really pick a side. I mean, I have a feeling that his punishment shouldn't be 175 years in jail in the US.
But what does that mean? It's just the way the US system works.
At the same time, he seems to be a massive narcissist and egomaniac where it seems to all be about him being in the spotlight and, you know, giving these big speeches and trying to show how virtuous he is. And again, that makes me call into question why he's really doing this, where it may be that it was about everyone else originally, but...
You know, now you've got to look at it and say, "Having been effectively under house arrest for this long. Of course, he's going to become a narcissist because in his universe, there is only one person and it's him." It's him against the world, whereas that was not necessarily the case at the beginning. So, yeah, look, it is an interesting one. It'll be an interesting one to see what happens.
What do you think will happen?
He'll just stay in Britain?
I mean, this is one where everybody blinked first.
And you can't blink again. So there is nothing left. Because I don't think the Australian government is going to step in and argue that he should be brought back to Australia or to defend him in whatever location that he ends up. I don't think that he is ever going to be released to the British police willingly. There may well become a case where the British and the Americans decide that they are going to go to some form of higher court and say, "You have to do this now."
Regardless of him being in a place where he notionally doesn't have extradition. But so it's just... It could be just one of these things that is just going to go on and on and on. And the trouble is that the original thing has to just sort of... Now it's all become about, you know, release Julian Assange. It's got nothing to do with what WikiLeaks was originally about, and that was exposing the data and evidence that governments were behaving badly. So that's the thing I think is more important.
With all due deference to one particular person who is clearly being treated badly under normal circumstances, you'd say he's been treated badly. Independently of whether he's committed a crime or not. But it's all become about him now. It's not about what they were originally trying to expose, which is, as you suggest, that it sort of defeats the purpose.
Yes, I guess the last story I had here was the train derailment that we had...
I was going to mention that one...
Between Sydney and Melbourne. So I think the train was coming from Sydney to Melbourne. Where did it go? It got to Wallan?
Wallan, which is just... Wallan, just north of Melbourne.
Yeah. And derailed, killing the driver and the pilot. Yeah. So what's the pilot? The guy who stays...
The pilot... The pilot is the one who's responsible for ensuring that all the signals are doing the right thing and getting the feedback from the signals, say "Yes, we can just keep going. We don't need to stop at this location and do that sort of thing."
So he's the guy that screwed up. Yeah, well, he didn't necessarily screw up because it wasn't that they... Literally did not run a red light and ended up on dodgy piece of track or whatever, now clearly they did end up on a dodgy piece of track.
I think what happened was that they had the track obviously going dead ahead, but there was a turn off and for whatever reason the turn off had been switched. So the train was going to have to turn sideways and they went at it at full speed and the train just went like, "Riipppp!" and derailed.
Either the signal didn't come through or it wasn't noticed in time or whatever, but it certainly shouldn't have been there.
Yeah, but it was a bit of a miracle, right, that we had... Two people died, which is, you know, incredibly, incredibly sad. But at the same time, we had no other real serious injuries or deaths, right, of any of the passengers who were on. And there... I think there were dozens of them on the trains. What's what was the biggest accident that happened in Australia with trains? Because you were alive when that happened, the bridge, right, that fell onto the train...
But yeah, in New South Wales, just out of Sydney.
Do you want to talk about that quickly, before we finish up?
I can't remember how many people died, but...
Tens of people, I think.
Yeah, that was one that the train ran into the bridge, basically.
Yeah. So the bridge collapsed. But I don't know that anybody... And this is you know, it's happened 30, 40 years ago...
It was in the 70s.
Just from memory, there were... The train certainly ran into the bridge, whether the bridge was collapsing before that or whether the train derailed and ran into the bridge. But yeah, that was one of those horrific ones where, you know, it's...
This was the Granville train. 84 people died.
So that was in January of 1977 in Granville, New South Wales, near Sydney. Far out. So that's the worst we've ever had. It is.
It is pretty intense to think that you had, you know, 84 people, I guess that's, you know, a whole carriage has probably 100 people in it.
And it was a, yeah, it was a commuter train. Yeah. And it happened during peak hour so the train was full.
Far out dad. Well, any other news that you want I mentioned before we bugger off for the day?
No. I think we sort of covered it. Other than coronavirus, which is world news, that's been all over the place this week.,,
Do you think that's starting to appear like it's going to be much more serious than we originally thought?
It certainly is in a sense that there are cases now popping up all over the place, you know. Eleven people died in Italy.
And I keep imagining my life...
That's the one person who came there, didn't know they were infected and has infected others or whether it's multiples or... I mean, we don't know. There'll be epidemiologists who are looking at that, but they're now talking about a worldwide pandemic, which, you know, pandemic sounds dramatic, but it certainly is when you end up with multiple countries in multiple continents that are being affected.
So what will that mean, is... The race is on now to get a vaccine and have that widely, widely available to the public. And that's a way that will obviously deal with this in the end, even if it does become a pandemic.
And obviously the people dying is a tragedy. But the side effects of it in terms of global economies, there's been... I think the smaller the last three days, the Australian Stock Exchange has dropped 1.5 to 2%, so it's something like 100 billion plus has just fallen out of the Australian economy in two or three days.
Is that because they don't have confidence that Australia's going to be able to trade well With China?
I Mean, the whole... Yeah... All of the stock exchanges around the world is just people gambling. It's just you betting as to whether or not a particular stock is... You can buy better value than than it's going to end up being or at lower value and then you either make money or you lose money and people panic.
Yeah. Anything that could possibly reduce the value of stocks, people will panic and sell.
Isn't that funny then? Because it's seems more like it's about gambling on whether or not people are going to panic about things.
Oh, it is. And that's the point... With the major drop outs and things has nothing to do with the economy. Yeah, the stock exchange, in this case, Drives the economy rather than as a result of the economy, because the panic comes from the... You're expecting other people to panic. Not that you're expecting these... The inherent value of an iron ore company or a steel company or a shopping centre builder is of no less value today than it was three days ago. It's just that they are major stocks and people will sell out of the major stocks.
It's kind of like when you're in a crowd and you, you know, yell out, "He's got a gun!"
Everyone runs and the stampede kills, you know, a bunch of people or something. And you're kind of like, "Well, that did more damage than anyone who's actually got a gun." Yeah. So do you think...
Yeah. So there's that. And then there's things like the Olympic Games, which is on in about five months time.
Is that in Japan?
And people are saying, you know, there's certainly reports now of individual countries saying we're not going to attend unless this happens. And there's other... World Health Organization, I think came out today saying it is highly unlikely we will have a vaccine before that time. What that means is, well, who's going to take the risk and what does that risk mean? And so at the moment, I think it's sort of in a holding pattern for the worldwide panic as to what happens. But clearly, there's lots of health organisations around the world that are doing their best to A) control it, to try and reduce the spread and B) treat it, and then C) prevent it from getting any further.
Yeah, it is interesting. I like to watch a lot of zombie movies epidemic movies and it's always interesting seeing how people are just going about their day, "buh, buh, buh, buh, buh," whilst the disease spreads and then within a week or two civilisation's ended and you always wonder like, "What am I going to be doing when the initial... If this were to ever happen in real life, and the initial spread of a disease or something starts happening, are we ever going to be taking it serious? At what point do you start freaking out and, you know, putting masks on and running around screaming and avoiding shaking hands and..."
Yeah, well, obviously, I wasn't alive at the time, but 1919, 20...
the Spanish flu?
Big flu... Worldwide flu epidemic where tens of millions of people around the world died of it.
Yeah. Was that related to hygiene at the time, too?
Possibly. I mean, you know, flu... This is a similar virus.
Wasn't that partly the reason that the Spanish flu wiped out a large population was that you had a lot of people who were at war, who were malnourished and injured. And it wiped the guys out that were on the frontline.
There is a lot of that. But I don't know that anybody panicked in the sense that it just happened.
You probably couldn't get the word out!
Yeah, exactly. But partly the fact that nobody panic meant that it was... Because, you know, communications were so different from what we have today.
Yeah, exactly. Where's that pigeon?
Yeah. Well, hopefully it gets better, hopefully it gets better before we have to get injections.
Well, it'll get worse before it gets better, but yeah... Well you know, if they get a vaccine tomorrow I'll be queuing up.
All right, Dad, thanks for joining me again.
No worries. See you next week.
See you next week.
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